Bedfordview businessman and Mountain View resident, Mr Antonio Iozzo, was the recipient of the coveted award at the Italian-South African Chamber of Trade and Industries FNB Business Excellence Awards held in November.
Mr Iozzo (37), a Jeppe Old Boy, is the driving force behind Insurance Underwriting Managers (Pty) Ltd (IUM) and Meadow Star Investments 85 (Pty) Ltd. Speaking about the award, Mr Iozzo said, “I am honoured to have received the award. I hope this will further boost the businesses. We will continue doing the great work we are doing.”
Although a successful businessman today, Mr Iozzo’s life story reveals that it was no easy task. He worked his way up from the bottom through hard work, determination and facing challenges head on.
Mr Iozzo’s father was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1984. He was confined to a wheelchair in 1992 and was unable to work.
“I started working nights and weekends at the age of 15 as a pizza man at an Italian restaurant in Kensington. We were struggling to survive and the money I made helped pay the bond on the house and buy groceries. In 1993, I left Jeppe High School for Boys in grade 11 and enrolled at a hotel school for two years.
“In 1995, along with my brother and my mother, I opened a pizza pasta restaurant in Cresta. My mother left her job and cashed in her pension to fund the venture. After nine months of working long hours trying to make the restaurant work, it failed due to lack of funds,” said Mr Iozzo.
He then worked for a company that conducted telephonic customer satisfaction surveys. In 1997 he was offered a position as an insurance broker working for a brokerage company in Kempton Park.
Mr Iozzo attended courses and studied at the Insurance Institute of South Africa.
“In 1999, my brother and I founded Mont Blanc Financial Services (Pty) Ltd (MBFS). The first three years were an absolute struggle. We each contributed R10 000 to start the business, which was all the money we had. We worked from a small office above a fish and chips shop in Edenvale. To finance the business and keep it going, I sold all of my assets including my car. We financed one computer over five years. We sat on coke crates when we held our meetings. During this period, we still supported our parents. After persevering for three years, the business established itself and our efforts to look after our clients by obtaining appropriate insurance cover at the best rates possible and to provide the best service possible, paid off,” said Mr Iozzo.
He founded Meadow Star Investments 85 (Pty) Ltd (Meadowstar) in 2002, and purchased a property in Bedfordview, where his offices now stand.
MBFS’ exceptional growth and profitability was rewarded by Santam. The company was presented the Diamond Award in December 2007.
Mr Iozzo founded IUM in 2004 to do administration work for MBFS.
In 2009, the split in the businesses between MBFS and IUM was completed and the companies ran independently. Mr Iozzo runs IUM and his brother runs MBFS.
Over the years, these companies grew and a number of successful products were designed for clients.
IUM’s innovative ideas, success and growth, was rewarded by Chartis South Africa. The company received the Hippo Award in 2010 and the Cheetah Award in 2011.
Mr Iozzo has been just as successful with Meadowstar, a property development and management company. His involvement in constructing new buildings in Bedfordview and in the on-going management of the tenants occupying them has ensured that the company is a success.
Mr Iozzo is also the majority shareholder and a director of Body Action Morningside (Pty) Ltd.
“Across all of my businesses, I insist on and emphasise the provision of excellent service by being knowledgeable about the business and in dealing with clients and colleagues timeously,” said Mr Iozzo.
Although a busy businessman, Mr Iozzo makes sure he contributes to charity.
“I have felt rewarded in assisting the Olympia Soccer Club, by being involved with and sponsoring the club. I am the main sponsor for the club. I sponsor 250 soccer players. I also co-sponsored and fund-raised for a successful soccer tour to Spain in 2012. This allowed children, who might not have otherwise been able to do so, to experience an overseas soccer tour. Being involved with the Italian Club has given me the opportunity to be involved with assisting children and my community with more than money.
“I have contributed annually to Little Eden for many years,” said Mr Iozzo.
He believes that the way one conducts himself in his personal life is as important as one’s conduct in business. “I have a wife and two children. My wife has really supported me throughout my business career, even when we were first married and we really did not have money to spare. I am very family-centred, spending as much time as I can with my family to ensure a balance between family and work. I also place a high premium on health, ensuring that I exercise regularly with an eye on both fitness and gym. I ensure I eat a scientifically calculated balanced diet to compliment my fitness regimen,” said Mr Iozzo.